Monthly Archives: April 2014

Before the World Began

Pefect Gratuitouness…

2 Timothy 1:9

Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

Before I was… I AM.

Before time… Eternity.

Before space… Infinity.

And even now, as I live and breathe,

in me, around me, all through me and

everywhere there is a there – and even where there is not… Grace.

Beyond matter, the particles and energy and all that can be detected with tools and brains,

beyond matter is Ultimate Reality, is Truth;

The Source, still and silent as It churns and sings with Life,

is beyond the reach of our physical senses, of our intellect and imagination.

Beyond grasping, the One Who IS, Infinite/Eternal One… is.

 

So… who am I?

I did not exist before the Word,

I would not exist without the Word,

for, through, with, and in the Word,

I am made flesh

and spirit.

No useless matter hurls through a meaningless universe,

for all is called forth into being by Being Itself.

Why does something exist instead of nothing?

Because the Infinite/Eternal One, Who is no thing, exists.

The finite cannot reach for the infinite

without losing its fine uniqueness that is its own particular identity;

Rather, the Infinite, ever-invisible/intangible and ever-motionless, reaches out

for us.

The perfect gratuitousness, which is the measureless Will powering Creation,

calls forth, through the unfathomable Word, the finite from no-thingness –

for no reason and no need, save for love.

Pure love, unadulterated by the finite, is Divine Reason…

is the eternal why…

is the Life of Grace.

 

Restore me, Infinite/Eternal One, to my reason for being.

Still and silent, with the speed and song of Thy Love, of Thee,

reach into my intellect and imagination, reach into my finite body and senses,

without a word, speak Thy Word into my soul,

and I shall be redeemed.

Not because I deserve to be, not because I have grabbed such,

not for any reason or any need – save for love.

The finite cannot take on the infinite without losing itself infinitely;

But the Infinite assumes the finite

in Christ

and, by the Gift given us before the world began,

the finite loses its finity in the infinity of the soul, and

restored, renewed, those who live,

though in the darkness of intellect and the weakness of human will,

shall see Light… Infinite… Eternal… Truth.

Christina Chase

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In His Integrity

 

What’s left?

Proverbs 19:1

Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.

“Blessed are the poor…” yes, yes, I know, but I’d like to be rich – who wouldn’t? To live in a beautiful house surrounded by comfort and conveniences and beautiful things, to not have to worry about how I’m going to pay the bills that pile up in front of me, to have nice clothes and cars and delicious foods and to be able to travel wherever I would like or give financial assistance and material help to worthy people in need whenever I am moved to do so – who wouldn’t want to do that? When we think of all the things that money can buy, we think in our minds – and even in our hearts – “Blessed are the rich.”

The stories that we hear about lottery winners always fascinate me. They win huge sums of money by luck and buy all the things that they’ve always wanted to have – and they admit that they aren’t happier. Some spend and live richly while still wisely saving and investing enough money so that they will never have to worry about blowing it all – and they say they were happier before they became rich. Friends and family members become jealous and manipulative, trying to get some of that financial boon for themselves. People everywhere seek them out with tales of woe in hopes of getting charitable contributions. And some, in resentment and also in greed, will make the lottery winners feel guilty if not enough of the winnings are spent upon things that they, the non-winners, believe are important. And then there’s all the stuff – so many things to buy, experiences to purchase, and no extra time in which to enjoy them, no extra heart-space in which to appreciate them. And the stuff has to be taken care of – or the employees hired to take care of the stuff have to be taken care of – it’s a lot of work. Some lottery winners become depressed, some commit suicide. And even the rich who earn their money never seem to be able to get enough of it, are always wanting more. Rich celebrities live glamorous lives – lives of broken relationships, drug abuse, waywardness. But, still… Knowing all this, I would still like to be rich. I would be one of those few who can handle it, who can do wealthy well. Wouldn’t I?

I don’t know. How am I doing with not being wealthy? Am I doing middle-class well? Actually, my parents are middle-class – but they physically take care of me in their home because of my severe disability. I, financially speaking, am poor. In fact, it is rightly said that I am a beggar since I can do no labor, no work inside or outside of the home, to earn my bread. I depend completely upon others for all of my needs for survival. So, to go back to my question – am I doing that well? I think I could handle wealth – but that would only be true if I can handle poverty.

Jesus did not say “Blessed are the financially destitute.” He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” I imagine that “poor in spirit” has been interpreted to mean different things over the centuries through different schools of thought. But, the point I want to make here is that poverty itself – the deprivation of material resources, of those basic needs of survival – is not blessedness. Merely being poor is not going to make one blessed, is not going to make one happy. There are many, many people who do poverty badly. Broken relationships, drug abuse, and suicide affect the poor as well as the rich. (Perhaps, though, we may think it affects the poor more because there are more poor people than rich.) The truth is that selfishness, greed, and unhappiness abound in humanity, no matter how much, or how little, money is ready at hand. If, however, one is “poor in spirit” – well, then, one belongs to the kingdom of heaven. What does that mean?

To be poor in spirit is not to have some kind of solidarity with the poor, that is, feeling deep compassion for them in their plight and helping them however one can by donating time and/or resources. The blessedness, the happiness, comes in truly being poor – in being a beggar. For, what do we have that is truly our own? You can be robbed of possessions. Your house can burn down and your insurance company go bankrupt. You can lose your savings through disastrous investments. You can lose your job or lose your breadwinning spouse and get evicted or have your house foreclosed upon, watch your car get repossessed and sell off your jewelry, your collectibles, your furniture, until you have nothing left. Even that body which you use to earn money and go to the store and enjoy leisurely comfort – even that can lose its functionality through injury or disease. That mind that you use to make sure you have all that you need and with which you appreciate what you have – even that can lose its abilities of cognition and/or memory. And then what is left? All that is left is what has always been, what is eternally: your belongingness to the kingdom of heaven.

Whether rich or poor, if we live our lives separated from our true identities, we will never be truly happy. We were all created by the Uncreated Creator. We all belong to this Infinite/Eternal One. Your true identity, my true identity, is as a living image and likeness of God. But, is that how we live? Or, do we rather live as our own inventions for our own purposes? I’m not talking about altruism here. I’m talking about knowing who you are. You could be blessed by living your life “looking out for number one” and understanding that that most important one is yourself – but do you know who you are? If you think that you are your physical pleasures and enjoyments, then you are always going to miss the mark of blessedness. If you think that you are your accomplishments and achievements, then you will never be fulfilled. If you think that you are the praising people around you, then you will never know true love, true happiness. If you think that you are the weight of your possessions, monuments, and money enjoyed now and left behind as legacy when you are dead, then you are most sadly missing out on the fullness of your one, unique life.

The Uncaused Cause has given you an immortal soul to animate your being – and has given you Godself to restore you to true likeness so that you may know blessedness and know it eternally. Who you truly are is who you are eternally. When passing things pass away, what is left? What has always been and always will be: a beggar. May our begging bowls be open and outstretched toward the Source of Being, the Infinitely Generous One Who truly gives us our fill.

Whether rich or poor, I can be a fool. Better to have no material pleasures to distract me from knowing who I am, then to go about my life as a fool in perversity. May we not choose to live our lives perversely, obstinately desiring to do what is unreasonable – and what is unreasonable is all that is is contrary to who we truly are.

Christina Chase

Nigh Unto Me

What do I want?

Matthew 15:8

This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

What is your goal in life? What do you spend most of your time, energy, and talents toward? I seem to answer the first question one way but then the second one in another. For, I say that my goal in life is to be the person that God created me to be. But, then, if I look at where I spend most of my time, energy, and talents, it seems as though I want something else. It seems as though what I truly want is material comfort/security and the pleasure of aesthetics – and, when I’m really ambitious, the praise of others. Did God create me to be comfortablNighe? Did God create me to be lulled in contentment? Did God create me to win compliments?

I am created in order to know, love, and serve… To know, love, and serve what? Myself? My pleasure sensors? My ego? Oh, what a limited life I would live then, blind and deaf to the fullness of reality, crippled in my existence. Such was my endeavor once. As a committed atheist, I saw no meaning to life, to existence, and so did whatever I wanted, thought whatever I wanted, making up my own meaning for my own purposes. I lived for myself. I humorously (but seriously) saw myself as the center of the universe – everything that existed before me was mere prologue; everything that exists after me, mere epilogue; everything that exists with me, mere background. And why not, since, at that time, I thought that there was no center to the universe anyway, no center to anything? Looking back at myself then, I see that I was a very selfish person. Self-centeredness is something that I always have to deal with in my personality but, then, as an atheist, I could let it run rampant and become a kind of religion. The doctrines of Looking out for Number One, What’s in It for Me, and If It Feels Good Do It were all I needed to live the life that I wanted, to be happy.

Or so I thought. However, I could not be a rational and serious person and shut out the Source of Life forever. If I had stopped thinking altogether and just go on feeling without thoughts beyond my own comfort and pleasure, I may have remained an atheist. If I hadn’t wanted the truth, if I hadn’t wanted to know what really is, then I could have kept my ignorance. But, the whole reason that I became an atheist was in order to find the truth, was in order to know reality as it really is. I thought that there was no such thing as God. And I was right – in a way. God is no thing. Rather, that which we call God… IS. One day, sitting beneath the grape arbor, I let my thoughts, my focus, go deeply into the reality around me – green leaves golden in the sun, long grasses in the breeze, birdsong up in the trees, and, pealing back the layers of sound, the silence of nothing behind reality. And it was in that silence that I became aware… that I knew. Without words or images or sensations or emotions, I knew. Infinite… Eternal… Present Presence… Being Itself…. I wanted to be an atheist again for the lack of complications and (as I see more clearly now) for the centering of the universe in me. But, I could never be self-centered again without knowing that I was in error. I did not invent myself. I did not create myself. Everything that I can see and hear and taste and smell and touch did not come from me or from my parents or from bacteria. There is Silence beyond silence… the Uncaused Cause, the Uncreated Creator, the Unmoved Mover… and, much to my surprise, I came to understand the truth of “the ultimate reality that everyone calls God.”

What did I want then, after that epiphany? To know. And to know Truth really is to love. And to really love is to serve – that is, to be who I was created to be. To believe in God is not to merely profess with our lips a set of tenets that we think are true, nor to assent with our intellects to those tenets. To believe in God is to accept the reality of my existence, who I am. I – with my self-centered pleasures and pride – am not the end-all and be-all. I come from somewhere. I come from someone. From Pembroke and from my parents – but, if I open my eyes and my ears fully, if I dare to look up from my life and step out of my own way, then I understand that everything in life comes from the same Infinite/Eternal Source, born forth in the creative power of loving. Something out of nothing – by the sheer will of Being Itself.

To say all this is one thing. To live all this is quite another. I can say that I believe in God and explain how one can “prove” God’s existence until the cows come home. But, to know is to love. God, who is all-knowing, is all-loving. The Fullness of Being whom we speak of as God cannot be grasped, cannot be avoided, cannot be controlled – cannot be denied without denying reality itself. What I want, then, is to be where God is… And where is God? God is nowhere… now here… everywhere… God cannot be pinned down… or flattered, or appeased, or manipulated in any way. For God is love, pure love, pure loving. Perhaps the better question is Where am I?

Where is my heart? Where is the center of my living life, the core of my principles, the aim of my pursuits? The question is not only on whom do I depend for life itself – but also, to whom do I turn whenever there is any question? What is the pulse of my life, with what beat am I keeping time? The life that flows through me is the love that flows through me and I am not its source. The source of the universe(s), the source of existence, flows life, sustenance, love through all – and what do we do? Where do we go? There is no escape from the Infinite/Eternal One, and yet we would keep our hearts for ourselves so that we may satisfy our own self-centered pleasures and pride; and yet we would try to hide our vulnerability from the One who loves us into existence and hoard up things to fill the void left from turning away from our Source.

So that the One who loves us into existence might not seem to be far from us in our sensory-dependent blindness, God became one of us. Christ Jesus lived in humility, unknown by most of those who passed him by. His beloved disciple leaned his head against Christ’s heart one day and asked, “Who is it, Lord?” The young man wanted to know which of the disciples was going to be the one to betray Jesus by selling him out to those who wanted to get rid of him. Shall I banish Him as well so that I may seek my own self-centered pursuits?… I bow my head this day and rest upon the heart of love, the heart of reality, the heart of life, and I ask my Lord and my God, “Is it I?”

May my heart always burn with love for Him who is the Lord and seek shelter in His ever-generous, all-consuming love. Lord, may I seek only You, want only You… let my heart not be far from yours…

Christina Chase

The Faithful Witness

Revelation 1:5-7

  1. And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

  2. And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

  3. Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

Here upon our Earth, we see the Sun in all its radiance and feel the goodness of its heat. Above our bony skulls is sky of blue and white, through which clouds sail, breezes blow, and birds fly; from which rain, lightning strikes, and snowflakes fall. Gold and pink, purples and reds give our eyes delight with the Sun’s coming and going, and we are secure, here, in our green and blue home. But, with the sun’s setting, the veil of sky is pulled away. In the night, when the clouds are taken from our sight, we see the spaces of the universe, the cosmos revealed before us in the far-flung stars. So far above our bony skulls that we cannot comprehend the depths of space… Infinity.

Our minds filled with wonder and awe, our bodies sensing transcendence – though some of us may fear, tremble and cower in the night; some of us may revel in the darkness and name the stars as our own; and some of us may imagine the night sky as a poetic kind of ceiling for our Earth. The truth of existence, once revealed, cannot be ignored without willful ignorance. Is the Earth, our home, insignificant in the vast reaches of Space? Are we no more than a bacteria crusted rock hurling through space/time? Scientists will take out their telescopes and microscopes for the answer. Poets and philosophers will lyrically lament and laud with symbols and syllogisms. Spiritually minded people will find meaning in the gaps of their intellectual understanding. Pleasure seekers will take advantage of the night with probings and pursuits they would not undertake in the light of day. Most of us, however, will simply sleep.

The Faithful Witness is the one who does not cower and hide, who is awake and does not ignore. The Faithful Witness does not dissect or pretend or fear silence and limitations. The Faithful Witness does not close in upon himself and drown out life with too much noise. The Faithful Witness testifies. He comes with the clouds so that he may bring light to others, pours out his blood in death so that he may bring life to others, descends to brown soil so that he may wash others clean. The King of kings, the highest of high rulers, rules not with a bony skull, with sticks or stones, or the pink and gold and flaming silver of stardust. The solidity of Earth causes us to feel at home, secure in our blue and green sanctuary. But the true Sanctuary, with the infinite depths of the true holy of holies, is hidden from our earthly sight. No where in the far-flung universe can that to which the faithful witness testifies be seen. Nor can the truth be felt. Nor can the awesome, infinite truth even be known by us of bony skulls. The truth can only be loved. The rule of existence is love and the faithful witness is the one who loves without beginning and without end..

How do we, who are at home on Earth, receive the Faithful Witness? With telescopes and microscopes, with sentimentality and lucky charms, with sticks and stones and the self-centered limitations of our bony skulls. Him we pierce with our scalpels and switchblades and self-inflated ideas, with the lances of our arrogance and the swords of our desperate feelings. But, we do not truly see the Faithful Witness whom we pierce. We are blinded by the created light of sky and the light of our own making. One day…

One day that is not a day we will see without seeing… and then we will know without knowing even as we have always been known…

Christina Chase